Cablevision to distribute CBS All Access, Showtime OTT services under new carriage deal

Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) and CBS Corp. have jointly announced a new multi-year programming carriage and retransmission agreement that will make the MSO the first pay-TV provider to distribute CBS' over-the-top services.

The new agreement not only covers retransmission consent for the CBS television network, and carriage for cable networks Showtime, CBS Sports and Smithsonian Channel, but also distribution of CBS All Access and Showtime's direct-to-consumer streaming service. 

Cablevision said it will make the over-the-top services available to its Optimum Online broadband customers, just as it already does for HBO Now. Pricing, timing and other details will be announced later, the Bethpage, N.Y., cable operator added. Identifying itself as a "connectivity company," Cablevision has become cable's most aggressive distributor of OTT services; the company is also packaging Hulu with its broadband products.

"As the first distributor to agree to provide CBS' new Internet services, Cablevision continues to expand its portfolio of next-generation offerings, connecting customers to the programming they value when and where they want it," said Tom Montegano, executive VP of programming for Cablevision. 

Neither the MSO nor the programming conglomerate released any specific data about the retransmission agreement. CBS has been, far and away, the most aggressive broadcaster in terms of pushing for retransmission fee increases. The company is aiming to produce $2 billion in retrans revenue by 2020.

Cablevision, meanwhile, has been a vocal proponent of the FCC's push to reform rules governing retransmission license negotiations. The FCC seems poised to render significant changes to these rules. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said two weeks ago that he has proposed dispensing of "exclusivity" rules that keep pay-TV operators from pulling in signals from far-away network affiliates in cases where they are blacked out from local network stations. This would produce a foundational shift in the respective bargaining positions between operators and broadcasters. 

It's unclear, however, how much pending changes to the rules impacted talks between Cablevision and CBS.

For more:
- read this joint press release from Cablevision and CBS Corp.

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